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Air Service Increases

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There are signs of encouragement at Green Airport (PVD) as airlines are slowly increasing seat capacity or adding frequency in a number of markets.

Green, like most airports, has experienced a steady decline in both available seats and passenger activity, which began in earnest in 2008 due to rapidly rising fuel costs for the carriers. It continued as the economy further declined the past two years. However, recent additions and upgraded aircraft have signaled a positive change, which will hopefully continue as the economy rebounds.

Delta Airlines, which reinstituted large jet service to Atlanta for a short period in November, restarted that mainline MD-88 service on February 11. The other two departures are on 76-seat, two-class cabin, CRJ-900 aircraft. All three flights are on larger aircraft than those used the same period last year.

The one 76-seat, two-class cabin, CRJ-900 Minneapolis flight on Northwest (now Delta) is being operated year-round, which is a change from last year’s schedule, when it was not offered January through March.

Southwest Airlines will increase its daily departures to Baltimore/Washington from nine to ten and to Tampa from two to three on March 14.

United Airlines (UA) will be adding a total of 122 weekday seats (in each direction) on April 6. The present daily departures to Chicago O’Hare on one mainline aircraft and two CRJ’s will be upgraded to two mainline jets (one A320 and one A319) and one CRJ-700. On that same day a fifth frequency will be added to Washington Dulles. It has been nearly three years since UA last offered five flights to Dulles. This will mark a 24% increase in total seats over the March 2010 schedule.
US Airways returned B-757-200 passenger service (193 seats) from PVD to Charlotte on February 11 for the winter peak. The airline has been, and will continue to be, increasing seat capacity by more than 7.6% when comparing May 2009 to May 2010. Year-end total seats for 2009 were 1,977 and are projected to increase to 2,107, mostly on service to Charlotte and Philadelphia.

Cape Air will be returning to PVD on June 4, offering the popular seasonal service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

Kevin Dillon, Rhode Island Airport Corporation President and CEO, said, “The recent positive changes to our schedule illustrate the strength of our market, which our airline partners recognize. We remain cautiously optimistic the increases signal a slow, steady recovery to air service at Green. We will continue to meet with all our carriers to ensure they are well informed on the status of airport projects, business and tourism development in the state and anything tangential to support our argument for more flights at PVD. This is all, however, contingent on an improved economy to support the service.”

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